A walk through Amsterdam at night begins, for us, in the Red Light District, an area known worldwide for its famous red lights and the ladies who dance in the windows beneath their glow.
We walk through quickly, stifling our laughter when we pass by the windows with the curtains drawn open, and then proceed to spend the rest of the evening subconsciously humming Roxanne by The Police.
We explore many side streets, the air scented with the distinctive fragrance of cannabis wafting from the colorful coffee shops on practically every corner.
We window shop in the curious souvenir shops along the main streets. (Amsterdam has to be the only place in the world where you can buy both fine china and a phallus-shaped bong in the same store.)
Our walk then takes us to the heart of the city, Dam Square. It’s early evening, around nine o’clock, and the city is just beginning to pulse with the electric vibe of its spirited nightlife.
A flame thrower entertains a crowd of tourists. A group of kids lounge on a monument drinking from red plastic cups. The air smells of a dozen different cuisines as restaurants fire up their grills for the dinner crowd. Many people sit around, as we do, just taking in the scene.
It gets later and the rumbling in our bellies tells us it’s time for an after dinner snack. We stop at a small cafe and sit next to a group of girls playing Uno and smoking a joint without a care in the world about who might see them. It’s a different culture here, that’s for sure.
Our evening ends with a quiet stroll along the canals, lit up with the glow from streetlamps and cafes. These walks along the water are my favorite, and leave me wanting to move into a houseboat alongside the Thames upon our return home.
There are two sides to this unusual city. The Amsterdam that is peaceful and laid-back by day becomes so very magnetic and vibrant at night. I love this city’s ability to simultaneously astonish me with its beauty and bewilder me with its culture. That kind of discovery is exactly what traveling is all about.
To check out Amsterdam by day, have a look here!
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